Soliloquy in an International Cloister

Watch your step as Brother Lawrence takes you inside the monastery walls of a five hundred year-old international order. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wish you had ignored your hormones and joined the monastery.

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Location: Rome, Italy

26 June 2006

Darned optimism

We had four young men who are considering joining our Order visiting us over the weekend. We have groups like these visit us two or three times a year. Generally, there is at least one defective member of the group—one might be missing his left eye and right ear so with no chance of marrying Hillary Duff he has decided to become a monk; another might believe that creatures from Jupiter have disguised themselves as doctors and are responsible for AIDS; still another might think that Hitler had the right idea, after all. You get the picture. As far as I could tell, however, there was no such person among this group. They all seemed quite normal, sane and genuinely interested in pursuing religious life. As you can well imagine, therefore, I am glad they are gone. It is SO hard to maintain my cynicism with such people around.

I often wish I could get inside the heads of today's twenty- and thirty-year olds who think they have a calling to religious life. Things are so different than when I entered. Back in the 70's, love was not yet free, at least not in middle America. The culture provided both positive and negative reinforcement for remaining a virgin until marriage, or even forever. Those props appear largely to be gone today. I'm not at all sure that I would have entered religious life if I had become sexually active beforehand. The guys entering the Order today are much more aware of what they are giving up. On top of that, many parents are not supportive of their sons' decisions to enter religious life—they want grandchildren, after all.

Another major change that has occurred since I entered is the image of the clergy. When I entered, clergy were unquestionably respected. After the recent, well-publicized scandals in the Church, I couldn't blame these guys for wondering what they are getting into.

It's enough to restore my faith in humanity. Rats.


Anonymous pog said...

Don't let 'em spoil it for you, BroLo. Or us.

26 June, 2006 10:20  
Anonymous Bobble said...

I had a spammer today caled Brolo Salsana. I thought of you.

26 June, 2006 18:58  
Blogger Br. Lawrence said...

Nggh... must... remain... cynical.

That was me, Bobble. I'm moonlighting. What was I trying to sell you?

26 June, 2006 20:22  
Anonymous Moobs said...

I grew up in a town to which people retired. In our church I was one of only a tiny number of church-attending boys. Every week they would pray for vocations from the parish and literally turn and look at my friend Julian and I as we did so. I broached the subject with my Dublin-born cradle Catholic mother who let me know that whilst she prayed for vocations she hoped it wouldn't be me. That was in the 70s. I think it has been a while since parents had any real enthusiasm for having a child in the clergy. The only time I've seen any enthusiasm for it was in "Saturday Night Fever".
If I'd known how overrated sex is I'd probably have joined the priesthood before I'd met P.

28 June, 2006 23:38  

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